AirFryer Sweet Potato Fries

If I were to tell you that it is possible to combine the words healthy, delicious and french fries in the same sentence you would not believe me. I do not even believe it. But with the Philips AirFryer it is possible. More popular in Europe, Asia, and Australia, the AirFryer is finally making its way to popularity in the US market just in time for New Year’s resolutions. The last thing I thought I needed was another appliance. I’m already out of kitchen space and have to store a bunch of things from my kitchen in my garage. Surprisingly I have used my AirFryer almost every day since I bought it and not just for french fries. I have made steak, bacon, yellow squash, zucchini, and brussel sprouts in it already. Every time I use it I think of something else I could use it for. Everything comes out delicious and it is easy to use, easy to clean, and saves me so much cooking time. It’s perfect for meals for 2-3 people. My favorite thing i’ve made and the reason I decided to buy the AirFryer is for these sweet potato fries. They are so incredibly delicious you forget they are healthy. With the AirFryer they are crispy outside just like deep fried potatoes but do not taste greasy. They are super easy and of course so delicious. Here is how you make them.

Sweet Potato Air Fries 2

Ingredients:
1 Sweet Potato Peeled and Cut Evenly into French Fry Sticks
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt

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Directions
1. Soak Sweet Potato Sticks in water for 30 minutes
2. Rinse and dry
3. Spray with olive oil and add salt
4. Pre-heat AirFryer to 330 degrees
5. Air fry sweet potatoes at 330 degrees for 5 minutes.
6. Open AirFryer, stir potatoes, close AirFryer and increase temperature to 390 degrees.
7. Cook for 10-15 minutes longer {depending on how thick you cut the potatoes} stirring every 5 minutes. Between 10-15 minutes check every 1-2 minutes until done. I like mine to be slightly brown.

Sweet Potato Air Fries

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Baby Food Adventures – Applesauce

Applesauce Make Your Own Baby Food 1

Making Applesauce is really easy. I found a recipe that called for honey, cinnamon, and vanilla and could not make it because I am not yet ready to give my daughter spices. Also, we have been advised that honey is not allowed until she is at least a year old. I made it with just apples and water and tasted a bowl of it after it was made. It was delicious. The best applesauce I’ve ever had. I would definitely make this again and make it exactly the same way. I’m sure this is nothing new but this is how I made applesauce using my pressure cooker.

Here is what you need:

Approximately 6 cups of peeled and cut apples. Cut them all approximately the same size.
2 cups water

Applesauce Make Your Own Babyfood 3

Instructions
1. Place apples and water in pressure cooker
2. Set pressure cooker for 90 minutes making sure the pressure valve is set to on
3. Turn off and let pressure cooker stand for approximately 15 minutes until pressure is released naturally.
4. Blend all ingredients until completely smooth
5. Store in refrigerator or freeze in sterilized ice cube trays for single servings later.

For the freezer method, you can first freeze in sanitized ice cube trays covered with plastic. Once frozen you can remove from trays and store cubes in ziplock bags. For detailed food safety storage guidelines read more here.

Applesauce Make Your Own Babyfood 2

Useful links:
Guide to Introducing Solids
Food Safety Storage Guide

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Baby Food Adventures – Butternut Squash

Making baby food is so easy I feel silly even posting this. But, I felt intimidated at first and think a lot of moms feel the same so I thought it may help someone else if I share my experience. I’ve decided to make my own baby food for several reasons.

1. I want my daughter to have fresh food not out of a jar that has been on a shelf for who knows how long.
2. I’ve heard it’s easy.
3. I’ve heard it’s cheaper.
4. I want to know exactly what ingredients she is getting.
5. I want her to be exposed to the same foods we eat so she transitions into adult food easily and gets used to the flavors we like. I want her to eat the same foods we eat so I do not have to make different meals for her.

We were thrown into starting baby food a lot earlier than anticipated. I had planned on waiting until the 6 month mark but my daughter suddenly stopped sleeping through the night waking up at 2 am at 5 months very hungry. This was after several months of her sleeping 10-12 hours a night every night. There are several signs you can look for like how much they weigh, how well the baby is holding their head up, and whether they are able to swallow to determine if your baby is ready for food but I recommend calling your doctor to make sure they agree before you start. I called her doctor and explained the situation and asked if I should start on food. They asked me a bunch of questions and ultimately they agreed she was ready. They recommended mixing 1 Tbsp of rice cereal with breast milk twice a day for about 3 weeks and then to slowly introduce other vegetables and fruit by adding 1 new item per week. We wanted to start with vegetables rather than fruit and to decide what to feed her after the rice cereal I used this chart. We started with rice cereal, added Carrots for a week, Sweet Potatoes the next week, and this week Butternut Squash. Butternut Squash seems to be the favorite so far but it could be her getting used to food after several weeks of trying new things. We give her about 1 Tbsp twice a day with a spoon but do not force anything. Sometimes she will take the spoon in her mouth and sometimes she will eat the food off of the spoon when it is placed in front of her lips. We never try to feed her food when she is really hungry because we think she will get too frustrated. Between meals when she is neither super hungry or full seems to be the best times.

To make your own baby food you really only need a blender and an oven to roast or a pot to steam the vegetables in. You do not need the tools I use. I like using my Secura Electric Pressure Cooker and NUK Baby Food Maker because they speed up the process and make cleanup super easy. My Nuk steamer and food maker is discontinued but there is a similar one by BEABA. I could have cut the butternut squash and steamed it in my baby food maker for this recipe but have you ever tried cutting a butternut squash before it is cooked? It is so much easier to cut and remove the skin after they have been cooked.

Here is how I made the Butternut Squash. Alternatively you can roast the whole squash in the oven.

1. Wash the squash
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2. Place the steam rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker and fill to top with water.

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3. Add the steam basket
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4. Place the whole butternut squash in basket
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5. Close pressure cooker and set pressure cooking time to 15 minutes.
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6. Make sure the dial is set to pressure.
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7. This is why I love the electric pressure cooker. After the time is up it stops itself and beeps to let you know it is done. If you are busy you can just forget about it. I turned mine to off and let it stand closed for about 15 minutes to let the pressure release naturally because I do not like all of the steam that comes out when you force release the pressure.
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8. Turn the dial to release to make sure all the pressure is released naturally. Open the lid and carefully remove the butternut squash with tongs. It is still very hot.
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9. Let the squash cool and remove the skin and seeds with a fork and a knife.
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10. The squash is very soft and ready to blend.
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11. Place in blender and blend until very smooth.
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12. Once it is done you can place in the fridge or store in the freezer. For the freezer method, you can first freeze in sanitized ice cube trays covered with plastic. Once frozen you can remove from trays and store cubes in ziplock bags. For detailed food safety storage guidelines read more here. We have been storing ours in the refrigerator and heat it up in the microwave to serve it at room temperature. We plan to use the freezer method but for now have been making more every couple of days.
Butternut Squash Mae your own baby food 1

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Arepas – Delight Gluten Free Magazine Blogger of the Week

Arepas

It’s so hard to believe my blog is well into its 2nd year. It’s been quite a learning curve with wordpress, some html, digital slr photography, photoshop, google analytics, and more. I have loved learning so many new things and am still having so much fun. My blog has come such a long way yet there is so much more I think I want to do. It’s a hobby that I only do in my spare time so I don’t necessarily have any goals or long-term vision for it other than to keep posting as long as i’m still enjoying it. Therefore, I am so honored that I was recently interviewed by Delight Gluten Free Magazine and this week am featured as their gluten free blogger of the week. To learn more about me, why I started this blog, and my favorite restaurant in Long Beach click here. For the feature, I also shared this super easy Arepas recipe and one of my new favorite quick gluten free snacks to make.

Ingredients
1 Cup PAN Harina Blanca (Pre Cooked White Cornmeal)
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Water
Olive oil
Avocado, Sliced
Queso Fresco, Sliced
Mango, sliced

Instructions
1. Turn on Arepa maker to preheat
2. Pour water into a bowl and add the salt
3. Slowly stir in the Pan Harina Blanco until completely combined
4. Roll the dough into 4 balls and press each of them down until approximately 3/4″ thick
5. Spray or use a paper towel to coat arepa maker with olive oil
6. Close arepa maker and cook for 15 minutes
7. Cut open arepa and add cheese, mango, and avocado

Serve with Guasacaca Sauce

Arepas 3

Arepas 5

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Butterscotch Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof Coffee

I had no idea of the health benefits when I started making my own version of bulletproof coffee. I just drink it because it tastes so good. So here is how I came to start drinking it. I love that I had two friends in the same week ask me the same question “so what is this Bulletproof coffee thing?” It meant two things to me. First, my friends see me as an expert when they hear about trends in food. Two, the way I am eating is becoming more mainstream. When they asked me I actually had never had bulletproof coffee anywhere. I had tried just grass fed butter in my coffee and loved it but had not been drinking coffee for so long while I was pregnant that I forgot about it. A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend of mine and her husband asked me if I wanted to try bulletproof coffee and I happily said “yes!” I already had my coffee from home so he blended in some coconut oil and ghee and it was delicious. It tasted like butterscotch to me and I thought to myself why does anyone want to have sugary flavored syrup in their coffee when they can have this? So I started making it myself at home.

The name bulletproof coffee was created by Dave Asprey who stumbled upon the idea on a trip to Tibet. He felt more energized on that trip than any other high altitude trip he had been on and credits the yak butter tea the sherpas drink. When he returned home, he created his own version with coffee. He sells a whole line of products including coffee and oil. It’s now available in local coffee shops nationwide and he plans to open Bulletproof stores. To read more, click here.

I personally feel more satisfied and energetic when I drink it but still only drink it because it tastes really good. Here are some of the health benefits of drinking bulletproof coffee from reading various websites:

Improves cognitive function
Keeps you feeling satisfied
Keeps your energy level balanced
Trains your body to burn fat for energy
Eliminates Snack Cravings
Reduces Inflammation
Boosts Metabolism

In the past I wrote about how we make our coffee every morning using a Chemex. Since that post we have started crushing a small piece of cinnamon stick and adding it to the bottom of the Chemex filter which you will see in the photos. This is how I make my Coffee Bulletproof- Combine the following using a blender or handheld milk frother. The blender does a better job mixing everything together but I prefer the handheld frother because it’s faster and less to clean. I just use the frother for a couple of minutes to mix it really well and it has almost the same emulsifying effect of using the blender.

This is the amount I currently use because it is very rich. However, it is recommended to work your way up to 1-2 Tablespoons of the Ghee and Coconut oil.
8oz. Coffee
1/2 tsp Ghee
1/2 tsp Unscented Coconut Oil

Bulletproof Coffee 1

Bulletproof Coffee 2

Bulletproof Coffee 3

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Bulletproof Coffee 9

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Juicy Fruity Prickly Pear Margarita

Cactus Fruit Margarita 2

Did you know the fruits that grow on Cactus trees are edible? Not only are they edible, they are delicious. They have many names – Cactus Fruit, Prickly Pear, Cactus Fig, Optunia, and their Spanish name, Tuna. I find them almost year-round at our local hispanic food market and make Margaritas with them. To remove the nubs on the skin which contain spines: slice off the ends of the fruit, make a lengthwise incision, and peel off the rind. This post was featured on BevMo!’s Thirsty Times blog. To see the recipe and instructions, click here.

Cactus Fruit Margarita 3

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Spiked Hot Cocoa Bar

Hot Cocoa Bar

This New Year’s Eve try surprising your guests with something unexpected – A self-serve hot chocolate bar. It’s an ideal drink to make as a self serve station so you too can enjoy your own party. It’s a great treat for both adults and kids who will have fun making their own personalized versions. For the kids and adults have fun with toppings and for the adults provide some fun alcohol to spike their drinks with. To get started, all you need is to make the hot chocolate, set up the toppings, and provide cups. See the full post on BevMo!’s Thirsty Times Blog.

Hot Cocoa Bar 3

Spiked Hot Cocoa Bar

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Pulled Pork Arepas

Arepas 2

I LOVE arepas, a flatbread made of corn flour dough commonly eaten in Colombia and Venezuela. They are so satisfying especially when you want a warm sandwich but know you cannot have regular bread. They have so much more flavor than bread. The first time I had them was at Empanada Mama in New York. And there are a couple of places in LA and Orange County that are fantastic. Cafe Bolivar in Santa Monica and Mil Jugos in Santa Ana. But I have yet to find any Arepas near Long Beach so I decided I needed to learn how to make them.

I received so many amazing gifts for Christmas this year and am so inspired to cook some great new recipes. For this post I used my new Secura 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker and my new Arepa Maker. I love them both.

I have always been afraid of the pressure cooker for some reason. It seemed complicated and also scary when the pressure releases. Honestly it is so easy to use and not scary at all. I love the 6 functions of the electric one I bought because we do not have a lot of storage space so it is really nice to have something that is multi-function. The other advantage of the electric pressure cooker is you can set it and forget it. You can leave the house to run errands and program it to have something ready when you get home from work just like a slow cooker. You don’t have to babysit it or worry about leaving your stove on. I’ve already used it to keep soup warm for a party, make pinto beans, cook the pork for this post, and it is currently making some bone broth. It made the pork for this post in 1.5 hours and the beans in only 30 minutes. I also cooked a butternut squash in 17 minutes and sweet potatoes in 7 minutes. I can’t wait to use it to cook spaghetti squash, pumpkin, etc.

The arepa maker cooks the arepa perfectly and is great for quick arepas but not so great for large quantities. 15 minutes seems like a long time but is really fast when you compare it to manually making arepa on the stove and in the oven. If you have more than 2 people I recommend looking at the larger capacity arepa machines.

Pulled Pork
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Ancho Chile
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt and Ground Pepper
2 Tbsp Crushed Garlic
5 Scallions
1 Diced Onion
Approx 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 cup of Gluten Free Beer
2 cups Water or enough to cover pork

1. Add the onions, garlic, scallions, and beer to the slow cooker or pressure cooker and stir to combine.
2. Combine the paprika, ancho chile, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture over the pork.
3. Add the pork to pressure cooker or slow cooker and pour in the 2 cups of water to cover
4. For the slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours. For the pressure cooker, cook for 1.5 hours once you have reached full pressure and allow pressure to naturally release
5. Pull the pork using two forks and mix in a bowl.

Serve on or with arepas and Guasacaca Sauce.

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Pulled pork arepas

Arepas:
1 Cup P.A.N Harina Blanca (Pre Cooked White Cornmeal)
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Water – add more if needed for the right consistency
Olive oil

Instructions
1. Turn on Arepa maker to preheat
2. Pour Water into a bowl and add the salt
3. Slowly stir in the Pan Harina Blanco until completely combined
4. Roll the dough into 4 balls and press each of them down until approximately 1/2″ thick
5. Spray or use a paper towel to coat arepa maker with olive oil
6. Close arepa maker and cook for 15 minutes
7. Cut open arepa and add pulled pork

Arepas 3

Arepas 5

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Pear Prosciutto Wraps – easy holiday appetizer

Pear Prosciutto Wraps 3

Looking for a great easy appetizer for your holiday potluck? You are in luck with these super easy and delicious Pear Prosciutto Wraps. One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep track of my favorite recipes and how I modified them. Keeping track of recipes I make and love is so much easier with a blog. My pinterest account is totally unorganized plus full of things i’d like to try. You also never know if a recipe that has been posted will still remain years into the future so the blog is a great reminder of what i’ve made that I love. This is one of those recipes I want to keep track of. I love using seasonal fruits and vegetables in my cooking and pears are in season right now. I found this original recipe here and I just realized now I totally made it wrong. I just went by the photo without reading the actual recipe and used the following ingredients and they were delicious:

Pears Sliced
Basil
Gorgonzola Cheese – Crumbled
Prosciutto

I loved the combination of sweet pears, salty prosciutto, lovely basil and strong gorgonzola. Next time I make these i’ll be adding honey to them and I think they will taste even better.

Pear Prosciutto Wraps 2

Pear Prosciutto Wraps

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Gluten-Free Pretzel Bites & Cookbook Giveaway

The Delight Gluten Free Pretzel Bites

That smell of the freshly baked pretzels in the mall or airports makes me crave their chewy doughy texture. It’s a craving i’ve had since I eliminated gluten from my diet. A craving I have yet to find a quench for until now. Thanks to The Delight Gluten-Free Cookbook written by Vanessa Weisbrod, executive editor of Delight Gluten-Free Magazine, and her team. This cookbook is a great resource for anyone on a gluten-free diet, whether you are just beginning or you have been eating gluten-free for years. The first section goes over the basics of being gluten free including a list of gluten free ingredients, how to shop, how to substitute for gluten ingredients, and lists of available resources. There a so many great recipes including breads, soups, salads, snacks, side dishes, main dishes, cocktails and desserts.

I decided to try the Honey Buttered Pretzel Bites with Cheddar Cheese & Beer dip. The recipe was really easy for both the pretzel bites and the cheese dip and both turned out fantastic. They make a great appetizer for parties. They are best right out of the oven and heat up well when you microwave them for 30 seconds. Your guests would never know they are gluten-free.

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Delight Gluten Free would like to give away one copy of the cookbook to one of my lucky readers. Here’s how to win your own copy of The Delight Gluten-Free Cookbook:

1) Visit http://www.delightglutenfree.com
2) Leave a comment below letting me know what recipe you would like to make from their site
3) One winner will be chosen on Saturday, November 15th at 10am PST

The cookbook is also available on Amazon in hard copy or kindle version.

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